September 7, 2011

GarBlondie Bars


I started getting into baking shortly after college.  It was a fun thing to do especially being the recent low-on-cash graduate with some time on her hands.  Oh, those quiet Saturday mornings before the era of kids...

A couple years after college, in a conversation with my boyfriend/now husband about the good ol' days of dorm food (I am being sarcastic here), we agreed that the dining commons had at least one redeeming feature:  blondie bars.  Not to be mistaken with this Blondie or that Blondie both of which I came to love in college, too.  No, the blondies I'm talking about for this blog were vanilla brownies.  Like sushi, Thai food, and a host of other non-Chinese eats, I had never tasted or even heard of a blondie before college but once I tried one, I was sold.

Memory unearthed and new obsession seeded, finding a great blondie recipe became my next goal.  And find one I did!  Blondie bars became one of the usuals on my baking circuit.  I loved making them because they were a change from the usual chocolate chip cookie --  my other go-to dessert -- and friends loved them.

Even though my kids are milk-allergic, I can continue to make blondies by using vegan margarine and dairy-free chocolate chips.  But through my interest in reducing my wheat intake, I stumbled upon Chocolate-Covered Katie's take on blondie bars using garbanzo beans.

Below is my slightly different take on Katie's blondies.  Our family of four found ourselves quickly devouring these (okay, okay...it was mostly me) so I more than doubled the recipe.  I added a little water because I was having a hard time breaking down my garbanzos with an immersion blender.  I think the added liquid helps to lighten up the blondies.  I also changed the quantity and type of sugar because I think the chocolate chips more than make up for the sweet goodness.

I like to boil my own garbanzo beans instead of using prepared, canned beans since they are often made with bisphenol-A (BPA), a potentially toxic chemical that can leech into the food from containers.  I usually prepare a huge batch and freeze any leftover beans for future use.  For the smoothest texture, be sure to boil them until they are tender enough to be easily mashed with a fork.

Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie's Chocolate-Chip Blondies

4 cups boiled garbanzo beans
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp vanilla
2/3 cup sunflower seed butter (nut butters or soynut butter should work if you don't have those allergies)
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp of turbinado or "raw" sugar (brown sugar works fine, too)
2/3 cup ground flaxseed meal (I like Bob's Red Mill)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe's are dairy-free and gluten-free.  If you are avoiding soy, too, use Enjoy Life)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare a 13"x9" baking pan with foil or oil.
  2. Using a fork or potato masher, mash garbanzo beans a couple cups at a time.  This will lessen the chunks for your blender or processor and make it easier to blend your batter smoothly.
  3. Once you've prepped the beans, put them in a blender or food processor.  Add water and vanilla.  Blend until most chunks are broken down.
  4. Add sunflower seed butter and sugar to mix.  Blend until well combined.  If the mixture is too thick, add a teaspoon more of water.
  5. Add remaining ingredients except for the chocolate chips.  Blend until smooth.
  6. Taste your batter.  Not sweet enough?  Stir in extra sugar one teaspoon at a time until you've hit your sweet spot.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips with a spoon.  Spread batter evenly in pan.
  8. Bake for 38-45 minutes until inserted toothpick emerges clean and the top is golden or golden brown.
  9. Cool completely and serve.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
I like these blondies best when they've had time to chill for a few hours or overnight.  The texture holds better and the chocolate and cinnamon flavors intensify  -- overall, it helps to mask the beans.  I don't mind the beans but if you're like my husband and not as sold on this healthier dessert, refrigerating before serving is definitely the way to go.
Ryken is always impressed at how I can hide the beans.

Love at first bite!

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